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betray not a little inconsistency in their pretensions to simplicity. For if they employ simplicity in its usual acceptation, when applied to these subjects, and not to signify vulgarity or childishness, it will imply a degree of beauty, at which most authors have studied to arrive, though but very few have been able to diffuse it throughout their compositions; It is this, we believe, that constitutes the charm of Xenophon, of Terence, of Tillotson, of Parnell, and of Hume.
It seems rather strange that the writer's time should be of so much greater consequence than the reader's. If bookmakers are to throw off their two hundred lines in an hour, if they thiik proper to print all sorts of -effusions, without being at the pains to mature their thoughts and elaborate their works till they become beautiful and elegant, and then gravely plead in excuse, the brevity of human life, readers will soon learn to reason in the same way. They will consider their time as too precious to be thrown away on those who would serve them with any kind of entertainment. Unripe fruit may indeed please a vicious palate: but persons of judgement will persist in thinking, that what has been thoroughly matured is the most grateful and wholesome.
After all, whatever Mr. B. might wish us to receive in the form of plainness and simplicity, he could never expect that such faults as the following, should pass without a note of censure. 'Has he not already began?' p. 24. 'The consideration of this should learn us to submit,'-&c. p. 28. '1 hat which appeared complex, should be harmonious and regular.' p. 40. 'Others equally as important,' p. 5l. 'There is no diminution in the blessings to be enjoyed: they stand as thick, and shine as bright as ever.' p. 245. 'There number is but few and form exceptions, &c. p. 212. 'Let us take care we do not put a wrong sense on it to what God intended it, and thereby fall a victim to unbelief.' p. 249. 'He can rise up and lay down.' p. 26. * The wounds and Transfigurations disease have left.' p. 263. 'How many but the other day were fresh and vigorous, are now gone.-' p. 298. 'What is the voice of every bereaving providence but this, to call, &c.' p. 301. 'Beneficients are sometimes called to witness the dissolution of their benefactors.'' p. 292. 'It is in vain for him to entrench himself; the bitter streams will find their way into his habitation, communicating a deadly influence, and withering his rising joys,'—ana so forth.
This volume contains fourteen sermons, of which we shall set down the titles. 'Pure religion. The mystery of providence. The nature ftf gospel liberty. Sanctified adversity. On reproach. On divisions in churches. On trials peculiar to business. Gn tlie. vicissitudes of life. Jesus Christ, the foundation of the church. Bereavement of children. On the promises. On sickness. On the death of friends. The diligent preacher.'
These sermons have no connexion with each other; and it is probable the same principle directed our author in the selection, as in the publication, of them.—We shall insert the fo.Mowing extract from the sermon on the nature of gospel liberty, as a just specimen of our author's manner.
* Thus we see what a privileged character the christian is- If liberty be a blessing, he has it in the most eminent degree. God is the great Creator and Lord of the universe, the high and lofty One who inhabiteth eternity; yet the christian has the liberty of access to his throne, to obtain mercy, and find grace to help him in timt of need. J«sus Christ is the great mediator and advocate of his people; the christian has the liberty to put his cause into his hands, and is sure to prevail. The Holy Ghost is the all-powerful ageut in the sanctification and consolation of man ; he hat the liberty to implore his influence and to expect his blessing. The Bible is the complete and delightful revelation of the designs of God towards a guilty world; he has the liberty to read it for himself, and, as far as he can, to make it his own. The people of God are the excellent of the earth, and the delight of heaven; he has the liberty of associating with them, to gather encouragement from their experience, benefit by their prayers, and fresh motives to diligence by their conduct. The ministers of the Gospel are raised up with various talents to dispense the word of life: well, his is the liberty to hear the maa whom he pleases; to profit by his instructions, to be warned by his admonitions, or consoled by his exhibition of the promises of God. The ordinances are established, and means afforded of various kinds, to communicate the blessings of gospel grace. His is the liberty to attend them, and in the present day, without any daring to make him afraid, or attempting to infringe the liberties of conscience. The blessings of Providence are given for the support of his creatures; Us is the liberty to enjoy these bleJsings with moderation and gratitude, and no where is the christian commanded to shut himself up from the world, to destroy his body in order to save his soul. Yea even as it respects things that are indifferent, which are neither commanded nor forbidden of God, he has liberty to use or abstain from'them at pleasure, provided he does not lay a stumbHag block in the way of others. In a word, his liberty is such, that he has a right through Christ, to all the bletwinus of the new covenant, extended through this life, and for ever in the lite to come. Blessed were those Jews whose hearts rejoiced at the sound of the jubilee trumpet, though only once in a course of years; but O far, far more blessed, are ye christians whose jubilee returns every day, whose debts are all cancelledt
whose liberty is proclaimed, and the earnest of that inheritance given
that cannot fade away!'pp. 71.—73.
In case of another edition, we would advise the author to purify his volume of the blemishes we have noticed, and of several others that a careful revision will detect; and at the same time to put all his references to Scripture at the bottom of the page, and not partly in the text and partly in the margin
Art. X. Essayi on Alan, delineating his Intellectual and Moral qualities. By Thomas Finch. 8vo. pp. xii. 290. Price 4s. boards. Sherwood, Neelyand Jones. 1811.
TT is certainly of great importance to the happiness of these kingdoms, that the minds of the rising generation should be richly stored with the principles of moral and religious wisdom :—but it by no means follows that every man is qualified to take upon himself the office of instructor, and publish speculations for the improvement of the British youth. Beside the very laudable intention of obliging the public with a new volume, he who would convey instruction of any kind with the hope of success, must have at least a general knowledge of the subject upon which he treats; and be so far in the possession of the didactic faculty, as to be able to make others acquainted with his conceptions and reasonings.
In expecting these pre-requisites in a teacher of any kind, it seems to us we are very moderate and reasonable : and therefore, without any more ceremony, we shall proceed to consider how far Mr. Finch has, in the volume before us, discovered himself qualified for the office of a moral and metaphysical instructor. We deem this the more expedient, as our author very modestly rests it with persons of our profession, whether he shall ' at some future period trouble them with some additional lucubrations', or
• retire with composure from the public scenes, and enjoy that obscurity which may, perhaps, continue without injury, his unalterable fate. Instead of cherishing that ambition which pants after literary fame, he will repose himself in the calm tranquillity of unapplauded life, and with virtuous contentment exclaim,
"Thus let me live, unseen, unknown,
Tell where T lie."pp. xi, xii.
When those who are not conversant with books undertake to teach, their knowledge, it is obvious, must be derived either from observation or reflection. They must either
Vol. VII. i X
tfnjoy such intercourse with mankind, as shall enable them id represent with fidelity find truth the opinions and sentiments and passions of their fellow men; or they must meditate so" deeply on tire faculties of their own minds, as to be qualified to frame a delineation of the intellectual country, that shall be readily recognized by every thinking being. Butasboth these branches of philosophy, that which arises from observation as well as that which arises from reflection, have so successfully been cultivated by some of the best endowed and most exercised spirits of different ages and countries, no man who now pretends to treat of them, separatelj' or together, can dispense with an intimate acquaintance with the most celebrated preceding writers. To consult such writers becomes more imperiouly his duty, if he has neither opportunity to observe his fellow creatures, nor time and ieisuia' to analyze the faculties and operations of his own mind. Now it should seem, from several intimations in the preface to this volume, that Mr. F. has had very few opportunities of observing mankind in a variety of' situations,—that he has scarcely any acquaintance with the masters of moral and metaphysical science,—and that he -is too young to have spent many hours in deep and continued thought on his own men»-al organization. It was therefore natural for us- to suspect, that Mr. F. was not exactly the person" to fabricate, as he professes, 'a practical introduction to the more profoundresearches of metaphysical and mora! science.' (p. v.) The grounds of our suspicion, it is true, iniitle our author to claim as his own, the leading ideas as well as the plan and phraseology of his Essays. But in an ' introduction* to studies, that so many men of learning and judgement have attempted to bring down to the level of juvenile minds, every sober person will readily dispense with an originality of a much superior kind to Mr. Finch's, in favour of the less strong but more useful virtues of an orderly and natural arrangement of the parts, truth and justice in the observations, aptness and familiarity in the illustrations, and perspicuity and elegance in the composition.
During the perusal of this volume, we are reluctant to say it, the suspicion that has been mentioned, grew into an irresistible conviction, that Mr. F. is ignorant of what he has undertaken. We intended, at first, to have made this out, by adducing several remarkable instances, selected from a great variety that pressed themselves on our notice. But, as it might be alledged that Mr. F. is not so much devoid of knowledge, as incapable of imparting it to others,—and it being of no importance to a reader,, whether an author is ignorant of his subject or incompetent to exptain it, we shall content ourselves with making, it appear, J.hat Mr. F. -h» lamentably destitute of the didactic faculty
Every writer, it is manifest,.shqujd not only have a meanin!;, but express that meaning in/such terms as. to make it easy of apprehension. However fine his words, or harmonious his periods, or splendid and numerous his figures, he must despair of conveying instruction, if he is unintelligible. Mr. Finch is so unfortunate as to write without sense in almost every page,—or, at least, his. vein is so profound that we are unable to discover it. The following passages^ we think, would have appeared to excellent advantage- iu a tractate on the Bathos, though tlisy are somewhat out of place in a discussion on the symptoms of intellectual degeneracy.
« Beneath the o; p essive influence of this Imellectu 1 nightmare, [custom J whose Herculean strength, alas! too frequently subdues the power of thought, the vigorous mind repeatedly strives to obtain its liberty, and seems equally restless in its dull confinement as the sulphureous inmates of Etna. It earnestly pants for the quick return of freedom, and strives to give- full vent to the course of its most enlarged faculties. Highly dissat'sfied with its present contracted sphere of action, it powerfully aims to extend the latitude of enterprize', and bounds its attainment only by infinite knowledge.' 'Instead of this active thoughtfulness, however, wc behold multitudes character!" tdniy by intellectual dulness, and moral stupidity. Their minds seem to possess no active qualities, but are slow in their progress as the tardy oak, cold in their concepvcos tes the frigid zone, and fruitless of ideas as the Arabian desert.'p. 142.
'But let us not conclude, that scepticism is an evidence of mental 'dignity, or the fruit of superior intellectual strength: On the contrary, its painful necessity argats a beclouded mind, and proves the absence of that elevated circumspection of soiil, which, looking froni the Panorama of intuitive thought, would instantly discover the landscape of universal truth.' p; 137.
We were taught, if we recollect rightj that there should be a sort of agreement, in all grave compositions, between words and things; and that ordinary thoughts should be expressed in common terms. Against this precept Mr. F. is a notorious sinner from the beginning to the end of this 'volume. The very simple proposition, for instance, that vice injures a man's looks, is expressed thus.
'His 'corrupted alienation from the high pre-eminence of pristine Virtue, must have had n conspicuous and mournful t,<Mdency to deform his aspect, and mingle the shades of ugliness with every display of beauty. And, perhaps, in all the stages of human degradation, this deformityWill become proportionate to the different degrees of intellectual degefce*